SETTING THE tone for the 2019 general elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday asked his partymen to work relentlessly, propagate the government’s initiatives for the poor and promote a young leadership. Party chief Amit Shah, meanwhile, asked them to begin preparations for the forthcoming electoral battles.
“Na mein khali baithunga, na mein baithne doonga (Neither will I rest, nor will I let anyone else rest),” was the message from Modi to MPs at the BJP’s first parliamentary party meeting after the recent assembly elections, including overwhelming victories in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The Prime Minister, who was received with loud cheers and applause by the MPs, started his speech by asking them to take out a “pen and paper” to write down their exercises for the coming days. With the BJP focusing on boosting his image as a “pro-poor PM”, Modi also asked the MPs to promote and market BHIM, the government’s digital payment application.
Talking to reporters after the hour-long meeting, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar said the Prime Minister told MPs that the BHIM app can liberate small traders from the clutches of money lenders and be a tool of social transformation.
“Those using it most will also be incentivised,” Kumar quoted the Prime Minister as saying. The MPs are now expected to take part in small rallies and awareness programmes to promote the app. In order to maintain the momentum of the government’s initiatives for Dalits, Modi asked MPs to conduct a week-long exercise ahead of B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14 at the booth level. Beginning April 6, the foundation day of the BJP, all MPs have been asked to meet party workers at the lowest level.
Describing polling booths as power centres, the Prime Minister asked all leaders to ensure that they visit every booth. During this period, all MPs, MLAs and other party leaders should also take part in a “Swachch Bharat” programme in their respective constituencies, he said.
“We must make the youth ambassadors of the government’s initiatives,” the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by sources who were present in the meeting.
Modi told the MPs that youngsters rely on mobile phones more than newspapers and TV channels to get information. So, he said, the party needs to use mobile media and communications to tap them. ‘’Catch them young’’, from class XII onwards, was the message the Prime Minister gave.
With the government gearing up to mark its third anniversary on May 26, Modi said that seniors in the party would decide on the celebrations, with suggestions from MPs.
Sources quoted the Prime Minister as saying: “We have been able to convey that a performing government is here. They feel that we are delivering. For the first time, people have accepted that a government can transform their lives.”
The Prime Minister also congratulated the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya and general secretary in-charge O P Mathur for the decisive mandate in the state.
Sources said that one of the Prime Minister’s remarks — “Un lalon ko bhi abhinandan jinhone mooh par tala band rakha (congratulations also to those who kept their mouths shut)” — amused those who attended the meeting. Some leaders said he was referring to those whose remarks had led to controversy and embarrassment for the party.
Addressing the MPs, BJP chief Shah said the party’s success in the assembly polls was the outcome of the people’s vote against casteism, family rule and corruption — three vices that had affected democracy. The massive vote for the BJP has broken the shackles of the politics of caste, family rule and appeasement, he said.
“It was possible because of welfare-oriented governance and the brave decisions, like demonetisation, of the Narendra Modi government. More than 80 per cent of people are confident that something good will happen to them,” Shah said.
“2014 was considered to be a historic election, 2017 has become even greater. But 2019 is the next big challenge. So we should be preparing for it,” he said, adding that the party cannot be complacent. “The next target is 2019,” he said.
The BJP parliamentary party also passed a resolution thanking voters for their support and workers for their efforts under the leadership of Modi and Shah. The resolution, proposed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, also expressed hope that the governments in these states would provide good governance and run public welfare programmes.